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Discovery Rise to transform JCU

James Cook University today released plans for the creation of a $1 billion academic, residential and commercial community around its Townsville campus.

The 20 year project, to be known as Discovery Rise, will see the rejuvenation of the campus core commenced in the first stage of work, planned for early next year.

A hotel, commercial and retail developments, and residential subdivisions will be created on vacant land on the edge of the campus, creating a vibrant, innovative and environmentally and economically sustainable university community.

New student accommodation will also be developed, helping to meet strong international demand.

The University’s Chancellor, Lieutenant General John Grey, said Discovery Rise was designed to invigorate the campus, and create a university community of which Townsville could be proud.

“The campus must be an interesting place, an alive place. Discovery Rise will add a critical mass of people – residents and workers who will be part of a broader university community.

JCU’s Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the University wanted to create a distinctively Australian university campus of world standing.

“We want to add to Townsville’s credentials as a university city as well as provide a strong foundation for the future growth of JCU,” she said.

A key element of the work to the University core is the creation of a covered ‘verandah walk’ linking major buildings. It will also provide a series of meeting places, cafes and retail spaces to encourage activity in the precinct.

A hotel and conference centre will be built near the hospital as an early stage, servicing a desperate shortage of available rooms in Townsville.

Commercial office space will be developed, targeting businesses with a research focus, or companies already doing business with the University or hospital.

Many of the housing lots will occupy the highest part of the site near Mt Stuart and enjoy views to Magnetic Island and beyond.

Professor Harding said record prices and strong sales in neighbouring developments gave her confidence there would be a ready market for home sites. She hoped they would attract existing staff and alumni as well as those who valued living in close proximity to the University.

“We want to activate the campus and that means attracting people here who want to participate in the university life.

“They will enjoy the access to courses, the latest communication technology, including high speed broadband, and an improved range of community and sporting facilities,” she said.

Lt Gen Grey said that Discovery Rise was part of the University’s goal of improving life in the tropics.

“It will be about smart living, providing a unique range of living and learning opportunities,” he said.

Sustainability will be important, with a building covenant giving the University a level of control over building designs.

JCU plans to use proceeds from Discovery Rise to establish a foundation that will assure JCU’s continued growth and development and its contribution to the wider community.

The project requires Townsville City Council approvals, but Professor Harding said she had been working closely with Mayor Tony Mooney, who had given strong support.

“Council is extremely supportive of the vision and principles of Discovery Rise because it sees this as a reinvestment in Townsville, delivering an integrated community and world class campus,” she said.

The Townsville community will have the opportunity to comment on the Discovery Rise master plan when it is displayed at the JCU Open Day on Sunday, September 2, at the Douglas Campus.

Details are also available on www.discoveryrise.com.au.